Two Proposed Bridges For Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Could Be Built In Flood Zone

Two Proposed Bridges For Brooklyn-Queens Streetcar Could Be Built In Flood Zone
Brooklyn Queens Connector
Rendering of the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector streetcar, via Friends of the Brooklyn-Queens Connector

As Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to throw his support behind the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens streetcar (BQX), the administration has begun to discuss more details and logistics for the massive undertaking.

According to the New York Times, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and other leaders announced that two potential bridges may be built as part of the projected $2.5 billion project which would connect Sunset Park’s burgeoning economic hub with northern Brooklyn, and terminating at Astoria, Queens.

Glen explained the bridges may be necessary because both the Hamilton Avenue bridge over the Gowanus Canal as well as the Pulaski Bridge (which connects Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and Long Island City, Queens) would not be able to support the addition of a streetcar line.

According to YIMBY, Glen did not bring up details about how the system would be flood-proofed. A significant amount of the streetcar line runs throughout flood plain areas in both Brooklyn and Queens. In addition, it’s unclear how the new catch basin law — which the mayor signed in June 2015 — would be integrated into the BQX project. This is a significant concern when considering the history of the extremely flood-prone Gowanus neighborhood.

Glen did highlight that the bridges — which will include both pedestrian walkways and bike lanes — would still be within the proposed $2.5 billion budget.

Brooklyn-Queens streetcar
Proposed route for the Brooklyn-Queens streetcar. (Courtesy of Office of the Mayor)

The mayor has thrown his weight behind the project, touting it most recently during last week’s unveiling of the new training facility for the Brooklyn Nets at Industry City in Sunset Park. According to the mayor, the growth of Industry City is a primary example of the need for the BQX.

The mayor’s support might come as less of a surprise when one considers the many prominent Brooklyn community leaders who are part of the Friends group.

Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector is made up of some heavyweight names, including Helena Durst of the Durst Organization real estate firm, Doug Steiner of Steiner Studios (located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard), and Fred Wilson of the venture capital firm Union Square Ventures.

Proximity to the subway and alteration of bus routes may also become a serious bone of contention as the project develops. According to YIMBY:

“…the route isn’t set in stone yet, but Glen said commuters should expect to walk up to a quarter mile from the streetcar to the closest subway stop. And whether the MTA will end up cutting bus routes that run parallel to the streetcar seems to be up for debate.”
“Earlier this week, the mayor admitted that the state-run agency may slash service for the B61, Red Hook’s most heavily traveled bus line. [DOT Commissioner Polly] Trottenberg disagreed, saying there were no plans to eliminate buses in the transit-starved neighborhood.”

The city continues to push the project forward. Glen expects the first round of public approvals (inclusive of community board meetings) to take place in 2017. Glen says that ground-breaking is projected for 2020 with BQX service to begin in 2024.

With additional reporting by Heather Chin.

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